By Carl Sagan
Within the ultimate e-book of his fantastic occupation, Carl Sagan brilliantly examines the burning questions of our lives, our international, and the universe round us. those luminous, pleasing essays trip either the vastness of the cosmos and the intimacy of the human brain, posing such attention-grabbing questions as how did the universe originate and the way will it finish, and the way will we meld technological know-how and compassion to satisfy the demanding situations of the arrival century? the following, too, is an extraordinary, deepest glimpse of Sagan's recommendations approximately love, loss of life, and God as he struggled with deadly illness. Ever forward-looking and colourful with the flicker of his unquenchable interest, Billions & Billions is a testomony to at least one of the good medical minds of our day.
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Extra resources for Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
And yet every generation has survived to the next. Chicken Little, it is suggested, is alive and well. Whatever merit this argument may once have had—and certainly it provides a useful counterbalance to hysteria—its cogency is much diminished today. We sometimes hear about the "ocean" of air surrounding the Earth. 1 percent of the diameter of the Earth. Even if we include the high stratosphere, the atmosphere isn't as much as 1 percent of the Earth's diameter. "Ocean" sounds massive, imperturbable.
We can do to ourselves what a careless owner of such a crystal sphere can do to the shrimp. If we are not careful, we can heat our planet through the atmospheric greenhouse effect or cool and darken it in the aftermath of a nuclear war or the massive burning of an oil field (or by ignoring the danger of an asteroid or cometary impact). With acid rain, ozone depletion, chemical pollution, radioactivity, the razing of tropical forests, and a dozen other assaults on the environment, we are pushing and pulling our little world in poorly understood directions.
I will concentrate on the thinning ozone layer and on global warming—as representative of the dilemmas we face. But there are many other worrisome environmental consequences of human technology and expansiveness: rendering vast numbers of species extinct, when desperately needed medicines for cancer, heart disease, and other deadly diseases come from rare or endangered species; acid rain; nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons; and toxic chemicals (and radioactive poisons)—often located in the neighborhoods of the poorest and least powerful among us.
Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium by Carl Sagan